Bulgaria is one of the most beautiful countries in Eastern Europe, famous for its sea beaches, high, snow-capped mountain tops and centuries-old history. It is a country that attracts millions of tourists. People of different nationalities live here, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Bulgaria, the country is looking forward to you!
Bulgaria on the map
Geographical location of the country
Bulgaria is located in south-eastern Europe. The country belongs to the Balkan Peninsula and is washed by the Black Sea in the west. The length of the coastline is about 400 kilometres.
In the north, the natural border of Bulgaria is the Danube River. It divides Bulgaria and Romania for almost 700 kilometres. Along the Danube stretches the Lower Danube Lowland.
Along the sea coast of the country stretches the middle mountains and hilly plains, which to the west turn into mountain systems: Rhodope, Pirin, Rila. The highest point of the country is Mount Musala. Its height is 2925 metres.
Bulgaria borders with five countries: Turkey, Greece, northern Macedonia, Serbia, Romania.
Safety for tourists
Bulgaria is ranked 30th in the Global Peace Index, which takes into account not only the safety of tourism, but also the attitude of residents towards the country’s guests. This is a rather average result, which suggests that tourism in the republic is not entirely safe.
There is a rather high level of pickpocketing and various kinds of fraud in the country, the victims of which are mainly gullible tourists. It is said that mainly ethnic Roma are involved in pickpocketing, but not necessarily. Therefore, in crowded places, you need to be extra careful and constantly keep an eye on your belongings. On the beaches, it is better to use the paid areas.
Road traffic here is quite calm, rules are observed, and fines for their violation are European-style high.
The ecological situation in the country is generally at a high level, but there are still frequent cases of rotavirus infections on the coast. You can catch them just by swimming or eating local food. Drinking tap water is also not recommended.
The country’s nature is generally friendly, there are no dangerous predators here, but poisonous plants and animals do occur. There are poisonous vipers and ticks, which are carriers of dangerous diseases.
On the beach you can get sunstroke and burns, and in the sea – back currents. Before diving, make sure you read the instructions on what to do if you are swept out to sea by the current – they are available at every beach.
Bulgarians are considered sociable and cheerful people with a great sense of humour, who enjoy organizing various holidays and festivals. It is not without reason that the city of Gabrovo, one of the humour capitals of the world, is located here.
Official holidays in the country are divided into secular and religious holidays. The latter include Christmas Eve, Easter and Christmas Day. Among the secular ones, New Year’s Eve is especially widely celebrated, as well as the days of Liberation from the Ottoman yoke, Unification and Independence of Bulgaria. The Day of Slavonic Script is also celebrated separately.
There are many tourist festivals and holidays in Bulgaria. For example, the Festival of Roses at the end of May. Or the festival «Kukerlandia» in the town of Yambol, which is accompanied by mass processions of mermen. Similar carnivals are held in other cities.
Among recent traditions, the Julaya festival has become very popular. It is held all along the sea coast and attracts thousands of tourists.
What fun things to do in Bulgaria
Bulgaria can offer tourists a variety of activities to suit every taste and wallet, from beach holidays and sightseeing to alpine skiing and comfortable yachts.
- Beaches. The country is characterized by a huge number of beautiful and comfortable beaches, among which there are sandy and pebble beaches. All of them are characterized by a paid zone and a comfortable, gentle entrance to the sea. The most popular beaches include Sunny Beach, Albena, Nessebar and others.
- Parks and dolphinariums. For a family holiday, numerous entertainment centres that are available in any resort are perfect. These include the dolphinarium and zoo in Varna, water parks in Golden Sands, Plovdiv and other cities, and various theme parks.
- Windsurfing. The country’s beaches are ideal for this type of active holiday. There are no strong waves, so favourite with surfers, but the wind is ideal for sailing.
- Diving. The Black Sea is not considered a popular destination for diving enthusiasts, but there is plenty to see underwater. There are various sea creatures of the coastal zone, shipwrecks and even remains of ancient cities. The largest diving centre is located in Nessebar.
- Rafting. Bulgaria is largely a mountainous country, and rafting on its rivers on rafts or kayaks is a popular tourist destination. The most popular among rafters are the gorges of the Iskir and Struma rivers.
- Hiking. Hiking enthusiasts will also find something to do in the Republic. There are dozens of convenient hiking trails through nature reserves and natural parks. One of the most popular routes is in Vitosha Park, near Sofia.
- Skiing. There are several excellent ski resorts in the country, offering pistes with lifts to suit all experience and tastes. You can ski, snowboard and sledge on them, and there are always experienced instructors available. The most popular resorts are Bansko and Borovets.
- Speleotourism. There are several large caves in the country, including in the beautiful Rhodope Mountains. Operators offer tours to caves both for experienced speleologists and simply for inquisitive tourists. Currently, there are about 6 thousand caves in the country, and one of the most popular is the Jagodinska cave, which has 5 underground galleries.
- Equestrian tours. Various variants of such journeys provide acquaintance with the beauties of local nature and historical monuments, of which there are a huge number in the republic.
- Cycling tours. Another option to get acquainted with the country’s nature and sights is bicycle tours. There are routes through the mountains, and there are routes through national parks.
- Clubs and discos. The night life of the country’s resorts is very diverse. There are cosy bars and trendy discos, music and dance festivals. Sofia, Sunny Beach and Golden Sands are considered to be the most party places in Bulgaria.
What is important to know about Bulgaria
If you are planning to visit Bulgaria, here are some of the most important things to know:
The official language of the country is Bulgarian. The written language is based on the Cyrillic alphabet.
The total number of Bulgarian speakers in the world is 9 million. In Bulgaria itself, 5.6 million people call this language their mother tongue.
Currently, the country is home to just under 7 million people.
Among them directly, Bulgarians are just over 5 million. Other ethnic groups in the country are Turks, 500 thousand or almost 8% of the population, as well as Roma, Russians, Armenians, Ukrainians and others.
More facts about Bulgarian, their character and local colour can be found in this article.
The national currency of the country is the lev. It is divided into 100 stotinki. The exchange rate of the lev has been pegged to the euro since 2002. It is 1.9558 leva per euro.
The lev has been in circulation in the country since 1880, when the national bank was first established.
Now in circulation are banknotes from 1 to 100 leva and coins from 1 to 50 stotinki.
Tourists are better to take with them the euro, because the lev exchange rate is linked to it. But it is easy to exchange dollars in the country. The exchange rate at the airports and resorts may differ from the official rate, so it is better to use the services of banks.
Bulgaria is a secular country, that is, religion is separated from the state. The majority of the country’s population professes Orthodoxy. Approximately 60% of the total population belong to the followers of this Christian religion.
The second place in the country is occupied by Muslims. It is professed by the Turkish community of the country, which is about 570 thousand people.
Protestants and Catholics can also be found in the republic. An insignificant part of the population, about 270 thousand people, call themselves atheists.
The country is located at the junction of two climatic zones. On the coast the Mediterranean climate prevails, in the central regions – moderate continental climate.
Bulgaria is characterized by two seasons: hot and dry summers and cool winters. In the off-season, spring and autumn, the weather is rainy and cool.
The average temperature is +25 degrees in summer and +2 degrees in winter.
Winter in Bulgaria is quite mild, with snowfalls and thaws. In the mountainous areas the temperature can drop to -15, on the coast it always stays around zero. The driest month is February.
Spring comes into its own in April, when the temperature rises to +11 degrees Celsius. In May the rains begin, it is the rainiest month in the country.
Fans of ski holidays come to Bulgaria in winter and beach holidays in summer.
Sea water temperature
The average temperature of sea water in Bulgaria changes significantly by seasons of the year. In winter, it drops to +6-9 degrees, in summer it can rise to +24.
- Water temperature in winter, December-January: from +6 to +9. The coldest month is February.
- Water temperature in spring, March-May: from +7 to +16 degrees. At the end of May, the bathing season sometimes begins.
- Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +21 to +25 degrees. The water warms up most of all in August.
- Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +23 in September to +13 degrees in November.
Bulgaria is a fairly safe country in terms of natural disasters. Strong disasters have hardly ever happened here. But even a minor natural disaster can thoroughly spoil the impressions of a holiday in the republic.
A significant part of the country is covered with mountains. The Balkan Peninsula is known for its earthquakes, and Bulgaria is not spared from them. Strong and destructive earthquakes have not happened here for a long time, but several times a year there are minor fluctuations of the Earth’s crust. As a rule, the epicentre of earthquakes is either in Bulgaria itself or in neighbouring countries – Serbia or Romania.
The republic is not spared from floods. After heavy rains, mountain rivers often overflow their banks. The suddenness of such floods is especially dangerous. In the mountains, the same rains end in mudflows. Even in seaside Varna, there have been mudslides that have swept houses and cars into the sea.
Other natural disasters of a minor nature include storms and hurricanes, heavy snowfalls and forest fires.
You can read about the most devastating disasters in Bulgaria’s history in this article.
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic, a unitary state. The head of state is the President, who is elected every 5 years.
The highest legislative body is the National Assembly and the executive body is the Council of Ministers.
Administratively, Bulgaria is divided into 28 regions. The capital of the country is the city of Sofia.
Major cities and resorts
Sofia is the capital of the country and its largest city. It is home to 1.38 million people. It is an ancient city founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans under the name of Serdica. It received its modern name in the XIV century thanks to the Church of St Sophia, built in the VI century. Sofia is the centre of cultural life of the country, there are many architectural monuments, museums, and very close to Vitosha National Park, a popular trekking destination.
Varna is a major seaport and one of the oldest cities in the country. It was founded in the VI century BC by the Greeks and was called Odessos. Nowadays 340 thousand people live here. Varna is famous for its remarkable churches, ancient monuments, dolphinarium and «Sea Garden» park.
Burgas is the fourth most populous city of the country, it was founded in XVII century on the site of a Greek colony. Now it is home to 210 thousand people. Tourists are attracted by the Seaside Park, museums and, of course, beaches with dark sand containing magnetite. It is believed that the sand of Burgas has healing properties.
Golden Sands is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Bulgaria. It is located 18 kilometres north of Varna and is crowded with holidaymakers during the high season. The resort was founded only in 1956, but now it is characterised by a highly developed infrastructure and a wonderful beach, which has been awarded the international quality label «Blue Flag».
Bansko is one of the best ski resorts in the country. Located in the Pirin Mountains area, the total length of the ski slopes is 56 kilometres. The highest point of the resort lies at the level of 2600 metres. Nearby there are ancient monasteries and healing springs, which will allow you to diversify your holiday.
Symbols of Bulgaria
The lion is a symbol of wisdom and strength. In ancient times it was depicted on the seals of Bulgarian kings, and it gave its name to the monetary unit of the republic.
Cyrillic alphabet – the first Slavic alphabet, which was created in Bulgaria by Greek enlighteners Cyril and Methodius.
Horo – Bulgarian national dance.
Rakia is a strong alcoholic drink popular in many Balkan countries. Bulgarians believe that they were the first to invent it back in the XI century.
Martenitsa – red and white jewellery made of wool and threads, designed to ward off evil spirits.
Kaba Gaida – national musical instrument, the Bulgarian bagpipe.
How to get to Bulgaria
You can get to Bulgaria by almost any form of transport.
Most tourists arrive in the country via airports. There are 8 international airports in the country. The largest is Sofia Airport – it annually transports more than 3 million passengers from all over the world.
There are international airports in all the main resorts: Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv, Ruse and others.
The second in terms of tourist traffic is railway transport. Bulgaria is permeated with a network of internal railways and is connected to all neighbouring countries. The main destinations of railway transport remain Vienna and Istanbul.
Many tourists enter the country by private motor transport. There are over 19 thousand kilometres of various highways in the country, which connect Bulgaria with all neighbouring countries.
River and sea transport are also important. The Danube is the main waterway of Europe. Motorboats on the Danube run regularly and allow you to get to the country not only from neighbouring Romania, Serbia, Austria, but even from Germany.
The main seaports of the country are Varna and Burgas. These are predominantly cargo ports, but cruise shipping is also developing here at a high rate.
How much money to take with you
Prices for holidays in Bulgaria can fluctuate quite widely depending on the season. In the off-season, they are much less than in the high season. In summer, the cost of a trip to Bulgaria for 7 days starts from 2500 – 3000 dollars.
A room in a 4-5 star hotel will cost you 70-90 euros per day. But if you bought a tour from the operator, the cost of accommodation and, often, breakfast will already be included in it.
In the country itself, tourists are waiting for the following costs:
- Meals: will cost from 15 to 20 euros a day for those who like to save money, and can be an order of magnitude higher for connoisseurs of cookery.
- Sightseeing: from 50 to 80 euros per entrance. Many historical sights are completely free.
- Water parks, entertainment, excursions: 250 to 500 euros.
- Souvenirs: from 40 to 100 euros.
- Transport: the cost of one trip on a city bus is 0.8 euros. Taxis are much more expensive – from 1.12 euros per kilometre. Thus, for a week you will have to spend from 20 to 40 euros.
Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday in Bulgaria for two will cost from 1000 to 2000 thousand dollars for 7 days. And of course, the maximum amount of the holiday can be much higher.
If you have already visited this country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all in the country, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!